The skirmishes at Sandy Hook and Indiantown took place
and Currituck Counties
on 18 December 1863.
Part of Wild’s Expedition to North Carolina, Col. Alonzo Draper led approximately
400 USCT soldiers on a sweep through southern Camden County, freeing slaves,
signing up recruits, and looking for rebel guerrillas.
Draper’s forces had been attacked during
the previous night while camped at Shiloh Baptist Church.
They escaped any casualties by spending the night sleeping in the church
while maintaining fires outside as a decoy. The guerillas fired at the
campfires, injuring no one.
The following morning, Draper continued
his sweep through lower Camden County
and turned north on Sandy Hook Road
to rendevouz with General Wild at Indiantown. Lt. Clifton A. Bennett, Co. A 5th
USCT, commanded the skirmishers out in front of the main body, followed by a
detachment from the 1st NCCV under the command of Capt. Jones.
The main body of Draper’s force
consisted of Co.
G (Capt. George B. Cock) and Co. H (Capt. Erastus C. Blood) of the 5th
USCT and Co. F (Lt. Joseph G. Longley) and Co. I (Capt. John M. Smith) of the
2nd NCCV (later the 36th USCT).
Shortly after passing through the tiny
community of Sandy Hook,
Lt. Bennett sent a warning back to Capt. Jones that the enemy was nearby.
From a distance of 400 yards, the guerrillas fired a volley the approaching
column, killing one man instantly and mortally wounding another. The two
companies of the 5th USCT laid down
behind a fence and returned fire.
I of the 2nd NCCV were sent to outflank the attackers on their
left flank while Co.
F of the 2nd NCCV were sent around the right flank of the
F became pinned down behind a building about halfway to the woods. Capt.
Blood was sent to their relief.
Cook’s men advanced on the guerrilla’s
location by the right flank, resulting in one more man killed and one
wounded. The guerrillas melted away into the swampy area to their rear and
the Union troops continued their march toward Indiantown. The entire skirmish
lasted about 30 minutes.
All of the casualties at Sandy Hook occurred in Capt. Cock’s
company: Richard H. Fox, 20; Jeremiah Franklin, 20; and Jordan Dorton, 19,
were killed. David Quan was shot through the lung, dying 6 June 1864 in
I was left as a rear guard at Indiantown Bridge
while the bulk of the force continued on to Dr. McIntosh’s house in the village of Indiantown.
The guerrillas attacked the men posted at the bridge at about dusk, killing
Pvt. Joseph Mullen and wounded two others.
Draper was joined at dusk by a force led
by General Wild. The combined forces renewed their pursuit of the Rebel
forces the following morning. Crossing the bridge, they twice saw the
guerrilla force in front of them but could not induce them to stand and
Draper’s men cam across the remains of a
picket’s fire near the swamp. A careful search led them to a zig-zag path of
felled trees that led to the guerrilla camp about 900 yards into the
swamp. A similar path that was used by
the guerillas to make their escape was discovered. It came out of the swamp
behind Major Gregory’s house
The camp had been hastily abandoned and a
roster of the company was left behind. Wild ordered the houses of the men
listed on the roster that lived within four miles burned. The only nearby
house belonging to a man on the list that was not burned belonged to Silas
Wild took elderly Major Gregory was
taken hostage for one of Wild’s men that had recently been captured.
Gregory’s house was burned.
Click here to see the report by “Tewksbury” that appeared
in the New York Times on 9 January 1864.